Joshua Holt, American Held In Venezuela, Is Welcomed Home

Venezuela ‘hostage’ flying home to meet family at White House – Trump

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro meets with U.S. Senator Bob Corker at Miraflores Palace in Caracas. Reuters

At a news conference in Caracas earlier on Saturday, Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Holt and his wife were freed as part of efforts by Maduro's government to maintain "respectful diplomatic relations" with Washington. The U.S. "offered nothing" to Venezuelan leadership in exchange for the release of Holt, two White House National Security Council officials told CNN.

HuffPost contributed additional information to this report.

Holt and his wife were being held at a prison in Caracas known as the Helicoide where the Sebin keeps political prisoners.

'We have good people working with us, and the folks in this delegation all very sincerely wanted to get Josh out of there, ' he said.

Holt's parents thanked President Trump and all of the members of Congress who advocated on their behalf: Senator Bob Corker R-TN and Utah members of Congress, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Rep. Mia Love.

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In a harrowing recent Facebook post, Holt pleaded for help and for his life, from a Caracas jail. Venezuelan police arrested the couple on weapons charges and held them without trial.

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude", said an emotional Mr Holt, sitting next to Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump said Holt and his family were expected at the White House on Saturday evening. The US and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro haven't seen eye-to-eye in years, which begs the question: Why now?

"You've been very courageous, actually, you've been incredibly fearless", Trump told Holt.

"You were a tough one, I have to tell you, that was a tough situation", the President said to Holt, adding that he is "very proud" of the administration's overall track record. Holt's wife, Thamara, also was freed, said Sen. The U.S. contended Holt was held on trumped up charges.

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A family statement issued by Holt's lawyer in Venezuela, Carlos Trujillo, expressed thanks for "your collaboration during this time of anguish we have been through".

Trump responded by calling Holt fearless. (Holt family photo via AP) In this image provided by the Holt family, Joshua Holt, his wife Thamara and her daughter Marian Leal, board a plane at the airport in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 26, 2018.

The U.S. promptly slapped new sanctions on the country, and Maduro expelled the top two American diplomats in Venezuela as payback. "I'm thrilled and relieved for the family, and grateful for all the hard work that's been done to get Josh home", she tweeted.

"We're doing the things we can with the tools we can use to encourage the material regime to at least in this one instance do something right and let this fellow come back", Pompeo said at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this week. A secret backchannel has opened up in 2018, between normally hostile Venezuelan and USA officials to discuss the possible release of Joshua Holt, jailed for more than 20 months in the volatile South American nation, multiple congressional sources have told the AP.

Holt's Venezuelan wife, Thamara, was arrested alongside him, but was also freed on Saturday and brought to the United States with her daughter.

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